Read Amos 7-9
If the Chucklebrothers had just read today's reading I have no doubt we'd hear their signature 'oh dear', 'oh dear, oh dear'.
As the book of Amos continued Israel was not standing good before the Lord. In 7:7-9 Amos sees, presumably a vision, of a plumb line. Unless you work in construction or have spent time studying the book of Amos you may not be familiar with what one is. These days you can find one cheaply at Wilkinsons and Poundland (other retailers available!). In essence, a plumbline is a weight on the bottom of a piece of string. One use is the construction of walls; by placing a plumbline next to the layers of bricks you can see how straight the wall is across development. (The hope is to see it parallel, hopefully the picture will help keep things clear).
God is using this image of a plumbline lined up against His people as a form of judgement and found them wayward. The penalty is glum. It really leaves the impression that God is not to be messed with. Yet, hope remained for Isreal to blossom again - Chapter 9 gave us a brief glimmer into what that would look like.
Fast forward to the 21st Century, we know God replaced the physical state of Israel when Jesus brought the New Covenant. Yet comparing ourlives against a plumbline still appears as a point of interest. Later in the New Testament, we read; 'Each one should test their own actions. [So] then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else' (Galatians 6:4). We are, in a sense, to reflect upon our lives in order to prosper; but not in a way where we compare ourselves to another person. ('without comparing themselves to someone else').
The ease of comparing ourselves to others can come naturally. Last summer I couldn't so much as complete a weekly park-run (can anyone remember when such a time existed!) without picking a random stranger who unbeknownst to them I'd was 'racing'. Yet for our Christian walk our plumbline is not another believer but the one in whom we believe.
Jesus Christ is our plumbline. That is fantastic for many reasons of which I will list only two.
Firstly, Jesus is able to relate to our struggles and challenges in life:
'For we do not have a [God] who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.' God knows the path you are walking and understands where you are coming from. Jesus also lived a life with challenges and is there to help us with ours.
And secondly, when it comes to our judgement day Jesus' death and resurrection have made it so that we gain the righteousness of God. A New Testament writer phrased it like this: 'God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God'. Simply put, God makes us look as straight as the plumb line we are compared too. Rather than a messed up wall, we are as straight as an arrow. Praise God.